By SARA GRANT
10:45 PM EDT, July 15, 2013
There are US Soccer fans...then there are the American Outlaws.
If you've tuned into a match or two you might have seen them. The scarves, the bandanas, the banners -- the American Outlaws are a unified, dedicated group of supporters for the US National Soccer Team that spans the nation.
Started in Lincoln, Neb., in 2007, founders looked for more consistency in the support of the US National Soccer Team. There are now 89 chapters across the country with almost 10,000 members nationally, including an official chapter in Hartford.
Established in 2010, the Hartford chapter is now up to over 100 members. Hosting match viewing parties at City Steam or Damon's Tavern, the Hartford American Outlaws offer dining and drink specials for their members to bring as many fans as they can to support the team locally.
So what does it mean to have the US National Soccer Team playing in their back yard?
"It's an honor for us," Outlaws member Tom Lovkay said before their prematch party at City Steam Monday night.
"We feel like we always get left out in the conversation to host big games, but we finally got 'em here, we're very excited."
"It's the thing that as a chapter you look forward to, because the spotlight is on you for that game," member Dorian Tanasi added.
Notorious for being the most decorated, enthusiastic US Soccer fans around, when the spotlight is on you as an American Outlaws chapter, you pull out all the stops.
The Connecticut Outlaws hosted a Gold Cup Night Before Party at City Steam Brewery on Main Street Monday night as a kick start to the excitment. The event featured drink specials and food that was not only a deal, but also decorated appropriately with small American flags.
As for game day, the tailgate begins at 2:30 p.m., when the gates of Rentschler Field open, with food and water by the East Gate. Then, the group--while chanting--is marched by security into the game at 7 p.m.
That's when the serious fun begins.
"We have a few surprises for the entire crowd we will be unveiling at the beginning of the game," Lovkay said.
Leading chants, rocking their uniform bandanas and keeping the crowd alive, the American Outlaws won't be missed inside Rentschler Field during Tuesday's Gold Cup match as US faces Costa Rica at 8 p.m.
The first game of the Gold Cup doubleheader will feature Belize vs. Cuba, followed by United States vs. Costa Rica. Parking lots open at 2:30 p.m. Stadium gates open at 4:30 p.m.
To learn more about the American Outlaws, including how you can join, visit their website.
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